Remarks by Col. Muhammad Mustapha Abdallah (Rtd.), Chairman/Chief Executive, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, at National Workshop on the implementation of 2019 Ministerial Declaration of the Commission (CND) held on November 13 and 14, 2019 at Rotunda Hall, Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs Office Complex, Abuja
Permit me to start this remark by showing our appreciation to all the stakeholders for making out time to be at this workshop. The workshop could not have come at a better time than when there is an unprecedented determination by people all over the world to work concertedly to deescalate the ravaging drug menace.
- Nothing can be more reawakening than the declaration by ministers and government representatives at the recently concluded sixty-second session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, CND to address and counter the World Drug Problem by strengthening actions at the national, regional and international levels to accelerate the implementation of the joint commitments.
- The World Drug Problem, no doubt, requires more dynamic and robust strategies. Ever since the 2009 Political Declaration, the drug problem in Nigeria and other parts of the world rather than abate has escalated in length and bounds. In Nigeria, the drug problem has shifted from the transit status for cocaine and Heroin and cannabis cultivation to methamphetamine production and a use of drugs of different types including psychoactive medicines especially Tramadol and cough syrup containing codeine.
- The global consensus is that the implementation of the commitments in the past decade is such that there are still gaps in the execution of the plan and action on international cooperation towards an integrated and balanced strategy to counter the problem of drugs. We still have drugs assailing public health and safety. We are daily confronted with a plethora of social problems resulting from drug abuse.
- The 2019 World Drug Report painted a frightening global picture of drug challenges, underscoring the need for broader international cooperation to advance balanced and integrated health and criminal justice responses to supply and demand. The report shows that prevention and treatment continue to fall short in many parts of the world, with only one in seven people with drug use disorders receiving treatment each year. The report also shows that people who use drugs is now 30 per cent higher than it was in 2009, and a higher prevalence of use of opioids in Africa, Asia, Europe and North America compared with the 2009 prevalence rate.
- The 2018 Nigeria Drug Use Survey Report released by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, UNODC reveals a pervasive drug use problem in the country. The report puts the drug use ratio at 14.4 % among age group of 15 to 65 years of our population, indicating that 14.3 million Nigerians have come in contact with drugs within that year alone.
- In order to address the drug problem in Nigeria, the country has put in place a comprehensive National Action Plan on drug control known as the National Drug Control Master Plan (NDCMP). The master plan contains four pillars to effectively address the drug problem in the country. This workshop will provide opportunity for all stakeholders within the country, to brainstorm and come out with further strategies that will address the manufacture, cultivation and trafficking of illicit drugs in accordance with the aspirations of the 2019 Ministerial Declaration and the 2009 Political Declaration.
- Let me seize this opportunity to clarify the issue of cultivation of Cannabis for medicinal and wellness purposes in the country. The law prohibiting Cannabis cultivation or dealing has not been repealed; hence the cultivation and dealing in Cannabis still remain an offence. Contrary to reports, the Agency has not granted license or approval to any person or corporate organization for the cultivation and production of medical cannabis oil and powder.
- On this note, I wish to reiterate that cultivation of Cannabis remains a heinous offence under our law, and the Agency will continue to exert its efforts to take all illicit Cannabis off the streets in the country.
- It is important to inform this gathering that as part of our efforts to reform drug control in the country, our operations are gradually shifting from reactive policing to intelligence led policing. We appreciate the European Union for their investment in this regard through the project NGAV16.
- We will not spare efforts in addressing existing barriers with regard to strengthening effective, comprehensive, scientific evidence-based demand reduction initiatives covering prevention, early intervention, treatment, care, recovery, rehabilitation and social reintegration measures on a non-discriminatory basis, as well as, in accordance with national legislation, initiatives and measures aimed at minimizing the adverse public health and social consequences of drug abuse.
- Finally, our synergy, cooperation and collaboration at national, regional and international levels must surpass those of the drug merchants in order for the World Drug Problem to abate. This has always remained a difficult task because of barriers which inhibit cooperation both at national and international levels which unfortunately do not inhibit the drug merchants and seem to make them always ahead.
- I wish you all happy deliberations as you learn new strategies from the experts and aggregate your experiences for improved national action against this hydra-headed national problem.
- Thank you for listening.